Death Of A Tortoise


Learning to smoke in the tin roofed garage
that never contained a car because we never had one,
we rolled up old newspapers, got the ends smouldering,
and puffed and coughed and choked.

Granddad was the gardener at the Miners’ Hall,
had been since retiring from the mine
and sent a big box of flower bulbs
which spent their winters here from year to year,
and somewhere among the boxes the old tortoise snoozed.

That night, awakened by a strange noise
we looked out of the window to see
the garage roof glowing red,
and after the excitement of the fire engine
and the serious telling off by the fireman,
and the haranguing from Mum
(especially about the flower bulbs)
we went to bed and cried

because the poor old tortoise was dead.

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